Rand Paul Fights GOP
- It says mountains about the "small government" Republican Party that liberty lovers like Rand Paul must fight the GOP leadership to protect the Bill of Rights.
(The Hill) - Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a GOP presidential candidate, will make life difficult for his home-state colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), this week by filibustering a short-term extension of surveillance authority.
“We will do everything possible, including filibustering the Patriot Act, to stop them,” he told a cheering crowd at a rally in front of Independence Hall.
Paul acknowledged he doesn’t have enough votes to end the NSA’s data collection program, but he can drag out the debate long enough to make it difficult for McConnell to reauthorize it before the Memorial Day recess, scheduled to begin Saturday.
The authority expires on June 1.
“Now people who watch the process realized they can ultimately beat me if they have the votes. They’ve got the votes inside the Beltway, but we have the votes outside the Beltway, and we’ll have that fight,” he said.
Paul said he does not support a two-month clean extension of bulk data collection authority nor the USA Freedom Act, a bill that reforms the program. The House passed it overwhelmingly by the House, and it's supported by the White House.
“This basically takes the phone program where the government collects all the records but instead has the phone companies keep the records but it keeps a form of the program in place,” he said of the proposed reforms in the legislation. “The Freedom Act actually expands the Patriot Act.”
The USA Freedom Act would task phone companies with retaining records of phone numbers, and call dates and durations. The NSA could search them only by obtaining court orders specifying persons or accounts of interest.
McConnell took procedural steps last week to bring a clean extension and the USA Freedom Act to the floor immediately, bypassing committee.
“I can delay it. I can force them to debate it, so the public at large can know what they’re doing,” he said.
Paul said he wants to buy more time to “rally the country” to call their senators and congressional representatives to urge them to oppose the program’s reauthorization.
“We do need to influence the process,” he said. “What I will demand is that we have time on the floor to debate this, and I will demand that amendments that we put forward are given a chance on the Senate floor to be passed or rejected.”
He said he will be joined in the floor fight by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who will co-sponsor his amendments.
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